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Former Missouri State University Student Files Lawsuit, Claims He Was Kicked Out For Christian Beliefs

Andrew Cash has filed a lawsuit against Missouri State University in federal court claiming he was kicked out of a master’s program in counseling because of his religious beliefs. Cash alleges he was “targeted and punished for expressing his Christian worldview regarding a hypothetical situation concerning whether he would provide counseling to a gay/homosexual couple.”

MSU spokeswoman Suzanne Shaw told the News-Leader that the “university strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or any other protected class.”

The lawsuit states that Dr. Kristi Perryman, the counseling department’s internship coordinator, confronted Cash about his views toward counseling gay people. Cash told Perryman that he would counsel them individually on a variety of issues but not as a couple.

He said he would refer them elsewhere. Cash also explained to Perryman that his approach to counseling is based on his “core beliefs, values and Christian worldview and these would not be congruent with the likely values and needs of a gay couple, who, for these reasons, would be best served by a counselor sharing their core value system and core beliefs.”

As a result, Perryman then told Cash that he “could not hold these views, which she deemed to be unethical, and which, she asserted, contradicted the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics as discriminatory toward gay persons.”

Attorney Tom Olp with the Thomas More Society – a law firm that specializes in religious liberty issues, said “It made me angry. She took offense at his religious beliefs and then essentially kept dwelling on those until he was drummed out of the program.” Perryman is now suing Perryman and a host of other university officials – including Tamara Arthaud, the head of the counseling department and faculty member Angela Anderson.

Olp continued, “We have this very dangerous trend towards allowing the government to shut down religious expression. That is contrary to the First Amendment. A democracy requires vibrant expression of various points of view and it really needs robust religious expression.”

After Cash's incident with Perryman in 2011, only a week later he was informed he would no longer be allowed to intern at the institute. He was also grilled about his personal views regarding counseling homosexuals, the lawsuit states. As of 2014, Cash had a 3.81 grade point average, was a student in good standing and only a few courses away with an M.S. in Counseling. He wants to be re-admitted so he can finish his studies and receive his degree.

Photo: Think Progress

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